OT: Epistolary – Finale

on February 26, 2013 in Other Tales

Dear Samuel,

I feel like such a coward for having put this off for so long. At the same time I know it’s ridiculous to feel that way because after all it isn’t as though I can actually put this letter into your hands or that you’ve been waiting to hear from me, but it kills me a bit to admit that.

We say that when someone dies they are beyond all earthly concerns. I don’t know if that simply means that you don’t need to eat and drink and can’t be hurt anymore or if it means you no longer care about anything that happens to those who are left behind or maybe there isn’t any way in the ordinary course of things for you to even know what’s happening. I choose to believe that there is at least some awareness and that you still care, but when you come right down to it the truth is that I’m writing this letter for myself.

Because I need to organize my thoughts and I need to try to make sense of things that no one wants to talk about, and because I need to say goodbye to someone who isn’t here to say it to.

I wish I could talk to you for real. Even if it was only once. It would probably be heartrending to say goodbye, but given the choice between once and never I think once would be better. I think it would be easier. And I could find out what happened up on the tower. Not even Eugene really knows. He was hit from behind and it all happened so fast.

I suppose even if you don’t know anything else that’s transpired since you were taken from us, you must know that he’s been raised. There was a life insurance policy. I didn’t know that his family has that kind of money. Did you? I’m relieved that he’s alive but I can’t look at him without feeling ungrateful. I suppose it’s his good luck that he die when he did. Otherwise he would have been in the thick of things either trying to cover the story or to help out. So many bodies were mangled or destroyed, burned in fireballs or crushed in the falling buildings.

They’ve actually stopped excavating the rubble. They just had a bunch of clerics bless it to lay the rest of the dead to rest, leveled off the ground, and put up wards against ghouls. Magisterius University is no more. Our campus is a graveyard and you’re buried in it somewhere.

Eugene is pretty sure they’ll rebuild it. He says they’ll sack most of the administration and pick a new site and a new direction and try to get things rolling again. I’m not so sure. Things went so wrong at the end that I don’t see how they could be put right. Apparently there are endowments that are tied up in the university’s mission and the decree that established it would have to be rescinded by another imperial decree for the school to be dissolved but even that seems easier than rebuilding it again. There have been all sorts of hearings and experts advancing their theories on why things got as bad as they did. If they do rebuild the school it really won’t be the same in any way.

And of course none of us will be there. I’d like to finish my education but I’m having a hard time finding a school that will take me.

But I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself. I meant to talk about what happened, not just the aftermath.

You already know what happened on the ground. You know it better than I do. I suppose you probably know it better than most people given how muddled and confused some of the accounts are. People say you were the first one to use magic. It was hard to see what was happening from my vantage point. It looked like that awful woman was slinging spells in your direction before anyone else had even really reacted. She says she was simply trying to disrupt your spellcasting. Even if it’s true that you were using magic then I can’t believe you were doing anything other than trying to vanish or get away. It isn’t as though you were some kind of battle mage.

Whatever you might have been trying and whoever used magic first things escalated quickly from that point. Everyone surged forward. I like to think that a lot of the students seeing the guards attacking you were trying to come to your aid. It didn’t really matter what they wanted, though. The Imperial Guard detachment was already en route and they started teleporting their response teams in when they got the word that fighting had broken out. The IG only distinguished between students and people wearing a uniform. I’d already lost sight of you by that point. There were times after that when I thought I might have caught a glimpse of you, but I couldn’t be sure.

Things only got worse from there. An order was given to disperse only after the battle was joined and the students on the lawn were penned in anyway. I was in the top floor of the library and the view was truly awful. I could see the whole thing unfolding below me. It was like the guards were spearing fish in a barrel only they were getting angry that the fish weren’t doing a better job of getting out of their way.

The commotion drew more students who seeing their fellows under attack retaliated with magic and weapons both. For a while they were almost winning, which under the circumstances was the worst thing they could have done since the rest of the Imperial Guardsmen were still on the way. When they arrived is when it went from being a riot to being a war. I heard a commentator on the news say that the problem was that the students were overeducated and the guardsmen were undertrained. Once the gate was down the wards on the walls stopped working and the ghouls were drawn to the carnage. By that point the fighting continued because the fighting continued. People were coming from outside the campus with either the idea that they’d teach the students a lesson or they’d help protect them from violent repression but it didn’t really matter what their motivation was they were there to fight. The reinforcements sent for the Imperial Guard had its hands full trying to stop the battle from spilling out into the countryside.

I saw a recreation of the timeline and apparently the whole thing was over in just six hours. It seems like it was so much longer than that but it also seems like it happened so much faster. It was forever but it was a fast forever.

You’re probably wondering what I was even doing up there.

I ask myself the same question. I wasn’t a member of Jennifer’s group and I didn’t see how anything good could come of her actions. At first I tagged along with her because I was trying to talk her out of it with each step of the way and then we reached the library door there was a moment where I could have washed my hands of the whole thing but I didn’t feel like I could. I’d lost Eugene and I wasn’t sure what would happen to you and I felt like I couldn’t just abandon Jennifer to her folly. I was narrating the scene below to her to try to convince her she’d gone too far when I saw you suddenly appear at the bottom of the steps. I am almost certain you saw me, too. It seemed like you were staring up at me.

The whole thing seemed so out of character for her. Not completely so. I mean she’s always been the kind to kick a burning log to see the embers fly. But the magnitude of it was just so much more than anything I would have expected from her. I suspected she was under the influence of more than love or wounded righteousness.

And maybe she was. She was found not guilty by reason of mental tampering but to this day I don’t know if that’s based on any actual finding of fact or if it was part of the face-saving and covering that happened after the fact. There’s been no further word about the nature or source of that tampering. Eugene and I of course have our suspicions but some men from the Department of Law took our research and gave us a warning to keep quiet about what we know or suspect about the Man in the Woods. At least no one has officially suggested that you were responsible although there are certainly those who advance that theory.

In a different world those of us who were in the library might have been used as scapegoats but the fact that the “riot” kicked off when the guards attacked you was inconvenient for that narrative. The fact that we stayed inside the library when the fighting broke out also helped. We were still there when they started evacuating. The laws we broke in the process of Jennifer’s protest were so minor compared to what followed and so without a more clear connection between our actions and the devastation it was just not convenient to subject us to a prolonged prosecution. We were misguided. That’s all.

We didn’t get away completely unscathed. No member of Jennifer’s “Collective” is supposed to have contact with any other for seven years. I found myself included in that judgment. Julia wasn’t, because she was safely locked away at the time. Another stroke of luck. She and Jennifer have disappeared into the wilderness. Julia left word for me that they’re heading north away from the Man in the Woods’ territory but sticking to the less settled midlands. They want to have adventures. I will worry about them but I’d worry even more if they had stayed. The world is changing, but it’s never going to change fast enough to suit the two of them.

My hope is that they’ll treat our seven year probation as a term of exile and when it’s up they’ll come back and get in touch with me. I suspect it will be easier for them to look me up than it would be for me to go find them. I doubt very much it will be just like old times then. So much has happened now and so much is bound to happen in seven years. In truth this is little more than a dream. But it’s a dream I need right now.

Of our little group the only one I am still in contact with is Eugene and I don’t know how long that can last. You probably knew that he’d asked me out a few times. He’s pressed his suit again and I don’t think I could stand to tell him yes. It has nothing to do with any bad quality that he possesses. I would simply feel guilty for going with him and because I have no good reason to refuse a good man I feel guilty for telling him no. For his part I’m sure he believes that I’m saying no out of love for you. That isn’t quite true, at least not in the way that he means it.

I do love you and I will always love you, my Samuel, but I’m not such an old romantic as to believe that this means I can never love another man again. But it would be another man who never met you and is not inextricably linked in my mind to you. I look at Eugene and I see the space beside him where you aren’t standing. When I’m with Eugene I’m sure that at any moment you will come sliding into the room and so I’m forever disappointed that you’re not.

The plain truth is that there was a time—there were months, even—when I didn’t believe you were dead. Not really. I thought you’d used magic to hide yourself away and you’d fled and were now lying low waiting for the attention surrounding the events that ended our college careers to die away. You’d told me before of your plan for if things went badly and you’d asked me if I would come along with you and share your life on the road. I thought you would come back for me and we would be like Jennifer and Julia. As virtual outlaws and exiles ourselves we could even go find them and it would be much like old times, if not exactly like them.

And then when you didn’t come I confess that my first thought wasn’t that you had died in earnest but that you had chosen to leave me behind. You must not think I thought too poorly of you, though! I believed in my grief that you were trying to protect me by sparing me a life you did not think I was cut out for. That isn’t to say that there was no anger or frustration in me. Honestly, my emotions swung back and forth fairly wildly and without much rationale. One moment I was angry at you for abandoning me and the next I was convinced that you blamed me for having put you in that position and so had left me behind so I could not screw up your life again.

Even that was better than believing that you were dead.

Can I tell you a secret?

I still don’t want to believe it.

Yours,
Melanie.


Help keep my writing! Tales of MU depends on the support of readers like you. Ongoing support is especially appreciated, but even one-time contributions help. Your readership is appreciated!





67 Responses to “OT: Epistolary – Finale”

  1. Wow. Just wow.

    I feel like I should say more, but . . .

    Current score: 0

    • Kaila says:

      It says a hell of a lot about the caliber of the story writing that while we knew everything was going to go to hell, pardon the pun, the author still managed to surpise us. From the bell tower to this epilogue, it’s been twist! Twist! Twist! And resolution, even if it’s not a nice one, but we knew that.

      And this is the filler rather than the main story.

      Wow indeed.

      Current score: 0

  2. DaManRando says:

    One more reason to just seriously Dislike Einhorn

    Current score: 0

  3. tigr says:

    Having lost a good friend of mine a couple months ago, this especially resonated with me. I was wondering how you’d wrap up this glance into the past, seeing how we all knew how it ended (in some sense), and I’m very impressed by how you did it. Super touching. And helpful to read, if you can believe it. You’re awesome.

    Current score: 0

  4. Vee Vee says:

    Tear-jerker.

    Current score: 0

  5. prospero says:

    Well, that would seem to explain the “Poetry club” The Older elves in Treeholm are the ones that were applying for entry in this arc.

    Current score: 0

  6. zeel says:

    Damn. Einhorn is delusional to an extreme, I just wonder what would happen if the truth came out?

    Current score: 0

    • Readaholic says:

      Wouldn’t make any difference to her. She would reject your reality and substitute her own.

      Current score: 0

  7. tomclark says:

    So… how long until Julia appears in Mackenzie’s story somewhere, somehow? You know it has to happen…

    Current score: 0

    • Luke Licens says:

      Considering the timespan, not so much. Unless you suspect she may be an ancestor. We never did hear Julia’s last name.

      Current score: 1

      • Yumi says:

        It’s a 43 year or so time difference, isn’t it? (Based on the dates in Epistolary chapters and Two’s diary.) She’d be in her 60s, so it wouldn’t be that surprising for her to show up.

        Current score: 0

      • clh says:

        It’s Julia du Lapin. AE put it in the update before this one and the one with the newspaper editorials.

        Current score: 0

  8. Readaholic says:

    *Sniffle*
    Poor Sam. Sounds like he didn’t even get to run for the shelter of the library. Poor trapped students. They had even less chance than Sam.

    Ariadne really is a tool of the Man.

    Current score: 0

  9. Iain says:

    Darn… this doesn’t lay to rest the awful idea that Brutus or Cassius is somehow Sam.
    Unless I’m totally wrong and people will tell me that’s impossible. I hope so, because death is better than being Mercy’s pet.

    Current score: 0

  10. Zathras IX says:

    Life insurance that
    Truly guarantees Life is
    Just good policy

    Current score: 0

  11. Anthony says:

    Hmm… OK, this makes me wonder.

    We’ve just canonically established that not only do Ress spells exist in the MUniverse, but they’ve been commercially available to those with the means to afford them for a lont time before Mackenzie’s story began.

    This raises a potential plot hole: why didn’t Leda’s obscenely wealthy family just have her ressed?

    Current score: 0

    • Amrynel says:

      Might require the person to want to come back. Might require divine approval. Might have a chance of irrecoverable failure. Might be Leda’s family or her family’s society disapproved of such magic. Or some other MUniverse reason.

      Current score: 0

      • JN says:

        Perhaps you have to have a certain percentage of the body available, or certain parts?

        Kinda like what Brandon got submitted juuuust before I did, lol.

        Current score: 0

        • Anvildude says:

          I think this is it- remember, there were mentions of “mangled” and “Fireball’d” students, suggested in such a way that they weren’t res-able. Leda, having been digested, probably was too dis-corporated to come back.

          Current score: 0

    • dfASdfADF says:

      maybe its a line of succession thing, she was technically some kind of royalty i think?

      Current score: 0

    • Eris Harmony says:

      I wonder if it isn’t something specific to humans, the Magesterium, or Khersians. Although it’s also established that the condition of the body is a factor.

      (I’m also curious what happens to a demon/human hybrid after death. As I recall, don’t demons return to the infernal plane? Also, they blessed the grounds to lay any lingering spirits to rest–what would that do to Sam’s spirit?)

      Current score: 0

    • Ermarian says:

      That was mentioned; Mack speculated that the damage was too severe for resurrection.

      The fact that Leda had been human-like and killed in water suggested one very strong possibility to me… or rather, one or two of them. If she bore bite marks and was torn apart to the point that resurrection didn’t seem to be in the cards for her royal personage, as it seemed was the case, then that made it even more likely.

      Of course, there might have been some other reason Mack didn’t know about.

      If this is true, then the only two people we know who died beyond the possibility of resurrection are people who have been partially or completely devoured (the other one being Lacey, polymorphed into a mouse). That might be a pattern.

      Current score: 0

    • Sejemaset says:

      In the modern history of fantasy there is often a difference between raising someone as happened to Eugene, and Resurrecting someone. That difference is generally that raising would require a body. It is possible that Resurrection without the body is only possible with a divine intervention or something of the sort.

      Current score: 0

    • oldsage says:

      It may also require that the body be almost complete…Eugene, was stabbed and broken – not ripped apart and eaten. To slow on typing…as others have posted almost the same as myself.

      Current score: 0

    • Rook says:

      This isn’t the first time they’ve been mentioned. One of the early OT chapters had a golem asking a priest if he had a soul, and they mentioned that the only way to confirm it either way would be to raise him after he died.

      Current score: 0

  12. brandon says:

    For a rezz spell to work you might also need most of the body i doubt that there was much of leda left after she was killed

    Current score: 0

  13. Billy Bob says:

    I hope that something bad happens to Einhorn. I’d be particularly happy if that something gives her a chance to realize what’s happening and regret her actions before she dies.

    Current score: 0

    • Burnsidhe says:

      The MU world *might* work that way, but it’s not really likely to. It’s more likely that Einhorn will continue to be herself until she eventually dies. Of disease or old age or something.

      Current score: 0

      • dfASdfADF says:

        elf.
        she can’t die of old age or a natural death, closest thing would be boredom/suicide which seems to be the main limit on elven lifespan

        Current score: 0

      • Christy says:

        She’s an elf. They only die of suicide or somebody or something killing them. They don’t even need to breathe, remember?

        Current score: 0

        • Ken says:

          I could imagine a story arc where Calahan and Einhorn go at it. Maybe something where Einhorn keeps harassing Mac by making it hard to continue the combat class.

          It would be a very short fight if Einhorn was stupid enough to “swing” first. I think I remember a conversation where Calahan talked about how much she likes to kill elves.

          Current score: 0

  14. anodyne says:

    Why is this shocking? We knew that ghouls and necromancy existed, why not full-blown resurrection spells? Leda was part of the chaos rift, right, perhaps it’s a divine spell that won’t work for her kind? Perhaps it requires a physical item to be created/saved prior to death. I mean, it’s a fantasy setting, plot holes are fairly easy to close up.

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Leda eaten? Maybe it requires a body to be mostly in the same configuration.

    Current score: 0

    • dfASdfADF says:

      we also knew of them already, at least as far back as mouse girl stole the dwarf sword

      Current score: 0

      • Corven says:

        Even MORE way back, there was an OT about a freed golem who fought in a war and asked a friend of his to try and get him rezzed, should he die. It was a plot to figure out if golems have a soul. The golem DID die, but his friend’s request to get him ressurected was denied.

        So one of the requirements to be rezzed would be for someone to have a soul. And since the Khersians are more or less the dominant religion and they are humano-centric, I bet they try and limit it to “human soul”.

        Current score: 0

        • Jennifer says:

          It was denied NOT because he was not human, but because he died in wartime. And there are a lot of rez. requests during wartimes, most of which have to go unanswered.

          Current score: 0

          • Corven says:

            I only said that his request was denied, not why it was denied. ;)
            The second part of my post is just a musing about the “requirements for ressurection” some people were talking about.

            Current score: 0

            • SurahAhriman says:

              The way you phrased it seemed like you were saying it was denied since he didn’t have a soul.

              Current score: 0

            • Corven says:

              Nah, that’s not what I meant.
              They were trying to find out if the golem had a soul.
              If he could be rezzed, he would definitivly have one.
              They never found out because the priests denied the request.

              Current score: 0

            • zeel says:

              In fact the denial wasn’t even related. He had been a soldier, and after the war almost all the requests were denied.

              Current score: 0

  15. sidsel says:

    “I look at Eugene and I see the space beside him where you aren’t standing. When I’m with Eugene I’m sure that at any moment you will come sliding into the room and so I’m forever disappointed that you’re not.” *sniffles* A very nice OT.

    Current score: 0

  16. scree says:

    After such an eventful story arc it’s going to be hard going back to just people discussing what they could be doing instead of actually doing anything. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

    Current score: 0

  17. Month says:

    A toast! To a man that tried to protect everyone, but failed, due to a miserable bigot and a most cunning opponent!

    Current score: 0

  18. narel says:

    I am super bummed this arc has ended! I hope we learn more in modern time MU!

    Current score: 0

  19. Zukira Phaera says:

    Magnificent chapter AE. Bravo!

    I think I have story hangover. Someone, anyone, please pass the literary asprin.

    Current score: 0

  20. Oni says:

    Hmm… So they blessed the ground, but never fully exhumed the ruins. I wonder if that will come back to haunt them?

    Current score: 0

    • Ken says:

      It is interesting that there is no mention of the pitchfork. It was left at the tower and might have dropped into the rubble pile.

      Imagine what would happen if a ghoul found it and it decided to go into hiding into some dark cavern that ended up in the dungeon.

      Current score: 0

  21. HiEv says:

    By comic book rules, no body, so therefore Samuel is still alive. ;-)

    Current score: 0

    • fred says:

      also it’d give more of a point to this side arc. possibly introduce a character at some point.

      Current score: 0

  22. Christy says:

    Do part-demons go to the infernal plane when they die, just like full demons, or do they die like other mortals and elves?

    Because if the former is correct, they could just summon him back! Maybe if it’s true, Melanie will eventually figure it out and do it!

    Current score: 0

    • Ermarian says:

      Mack’s grandmother (an unreliable source if ever there was one) believes that their human part is dragged to the infernal plane by their demon part.

      Current score: 0

    • fred says:

      human blood ect. probably die like anybody else

      Current score: 0

  23. Ermarian says:

    I still don’t want to believe it.

    And welll she shouldn’t.

    Never Found The Body.

    Current score: 0

  24. Cadnawes says:

    And if everybody’s correct and he did get out, I just hope he did it before they blessed the freaking ground.

    Current score: 0

  25. holodrum says:

    This arc. was. amazing… Such a great example of pacing that gave enough details at just the right moments of the characters lives, strong emotions and a great look at an imperial republic on the verge of upheaval. So good to finally get a good look at the events that have affected the campus so much, even if their direct effects on the main story are minor. AE, you have outdone yourself. Now we just need more of the arc about Aidan, and I could die a happy man.

    Current score: 0

  26. Doug says:

    (Assuming he’s alive)
    I wonder if Sam changed his name to Daniel? :-D

    Current score: 0

    • oldsage says:

      Or… He was the one TWO,came in contact with when she was investigating Demons?

      Current score: 0

  27. Potatohead says:

    An unrelated question, but are there any hopes/plans of collecting ToMU into a print format?

    Current score: 0

  28. TNadal says:

    one of the most moving of these so far.

    Thank You A.E.

    Current score: 0

  29. Joshua says:

    Absolutely beautiful character development in this arc. We really feel it!

    Current score: 0

  30. Daez says:

    Damn. Damn damn. Tears. No body. I’m a stubborn wench, so I’m going to hope Sam reappears. -sniffle-

    Current score: 0

  31. Torson "Daemon Eyes" Gnowles says:

    I’ve read every chapter, every OT, up to this one. I loved each and every story you’ve written, but none of them have moved me like this one has. Thank you AE, for all the eff

    Current score: 0

  32. Torson "Daemon Eyes" Gnowles says:

    I’ve read every chapter, every OT, up to this one. I loved each and every story you’ve written, but none of them have moved me like this one has. Thank you AE, for all the time and effort you’ve out into writing these stories.

    On an unrelated note, technically Einhorn herself caused the riot. I understand how she could throw her weight around and keep her job afterwards, but HOW did people end up blaming the Half-Demon instead? I mean, I understand twisting the facts after the fact, but everyone who was looking would just see a crazed Elf woman launching Fireballs, screaming her head off. During a point in time where the human-dominant society still didn’t see Elves as equals. HOW did she get away with it?

    Current score: 0

Leave a Reply